World Demonstrations Strengthen Iraqis - 03.29.2006

By Brian Conley and Isam Rashid

BAGHDAD, Mar 29 (IPS) - Three years after the occupation, calls for unity in fighting it are gaining ground across Iraq.

The memory of the invasion brings sadness, but Iraqis still take heart each year when they hear and see the demonstrations of solidarity with them all over the world.

Usama Asa’ad, a 34-year-old living in Baghdad told IPS that the anniversary of the invasion last week was “a very sad day for all Iraqis because it was the beginning of the destruction of Iraq by occupation forces without real reason.”

Although the anniversary always brings new frustration in Iraq, there is some hope too. The continuing anti-war movement is welcomed. Those Iraqis who can receive images of anti-war marches by television are excited to do so, others read about them in the papers, or hear from their neighbours.

“Your demonstrations are a great help for Iraq and for justice, and thank you so much for this help,” Zainab Rahman said, as if addressing the demonstrators.

The Muslim Scholars Association, a group representing Sunni Muslims in Iraq, issued a statement contesting Bush’s claims of ongoing progress in Iraq.

“Three years ago the U.S. and UK forces came from across the world to occupy Iraq without reason and without respecting UN and the Security Council decisions,” the Association said. “Now, after three years you can see how the Iraq situation is very bad, and we don’t know what kind of help we can get from occupation.”

With the third anniversary come and past, Iraqis are still looking for basic services such as electricity and clean water.

In January and February, Baghdadis could only count on three to five hours of electricity a day. This has improved to an average of perhaps seven hours of electricity on a given day.

Asa’ad is one of many Baghdadis increasingly frustrated by the services situation in the capital. He is heartened, however, by the understanding of demonstrators around the world.

“I can’t thank them enough because they feel for Iraq and Iraqi peoples’ suffering. We will do the same if anything bad happens to any of these countries, to share their feelings as they do now and because we are human and we must all feel for each other.”

Many Iraqis talk at length about the future of Iraq and in particular the future for the Bush Administration and other nations involved with the Multi-National Forces-Iraq. Discussions take place all the time about war crimes and what the United Nations could do to deal with the occupation force.

“I think the international court must try the U.S. government for their crimes in Iraq, like they did with Germany’s officers after the second world war,” Baghdad resident Ahmed Noor told IPS.

The foreign press rarely discuss the initial drive to war now, having tired of the changing reasons the Bush Administration offers to excuse the war. Iraqis however, remember the approach to war each year.

Usama Asa’ad remembers well the beginning of the war and the various excuses for war presented by Bush. “I would like to say to him, there is no real reason for this war and he lied to all the world when he said the Iraqi government had thousands of tonnes of chemical weapons, and they were working to make nuclear weapons. After this three years the world discovered all of this was lies.”

Asa’ad added: “It was not a war for justice. The U.S. government wanted only to control the Iraqi oil, and that would help them to control the world after Iraq.”

Ali Fathi, a 38 year-old member of the Iraqi Islamic Party agreed with Asa’ad about the lies of the Bush Administration and the coalition. “They haven’t a real reason for this war,” he told IPS. “All of their reasons were fake, but their purpose was to destroy Islam and Iraq. Iraq was their first step.”

Ali Fathi was thankful for the demonstrations around the world, but said only the resistance will end the occupation. “I would like to say to the resistance, keep up with your work because their work is the main force to end the occupation, and then Iraqi people can do whatever they want in their country.”

Ahmed Noor said “we don’t need to hope, we need to work very hard to end the occupation and then we can build a new Iraq with a real democratic government; to show all the world how we wish to live in peace without blood and without bombs and wars.”

The Muslim Scholars Association also called for action. ” Now we ask Iraqi people to join hands together to end the occupation, and at the same time, we ask occupation forces to withdraw their troops as soon as possible.” (END/2006)


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